BALTIMORE—Manager Brandon Hyde moved Ryan Mountcastle to sixth in the batting order for Monday night’s game against the Seattle Mariners. In his first nine games, Mountcastle is batting .184 with a home run and five RBIs. He leads the major leagues in strikeouts with 17.
Mountcastle has hit fourth in eight games, and third in another.
Third baseman Maikel Franco, who hit fourth in the game in which Mountcastle batted third, will be in the cleanup spot against Seattle.
“I’m just trying to take a little pressure off Ryan,” Hyde said. “He’s putting so much pressure on himself. I want to give Ryan a little bit of a breather, talked about it with him. I’m just trying to let him breathe through his at-bats. I see him really pressing.”
Hyde said that moving Mountcastle lower in the order isn’t related to his play in left field, where he has struggled.
“He’s still getting his work in defensively out there,” Hyde said. “He was out there working earlier today. This is about trying to help him out on the offensive side … let some guys hit in front of him. That’s all it is.”
No bullpen changes: In the weekend sweep by Boston, Hyde needed his bullpen to cover 13 innings. Only Bruce Zimmermann pitched six innings in the three games. That game went 10 innings. Matt Harvey went five in Thursday’s home opener, and Jorge López went four-plus on Sunday.
Hyde isn’t changing anything.
“There was some consideration, but we’re going to go with what we have tonight,” Hyde said. “I do feel comfortable that we have [Wade] LeBlanc that can go long … hoping that [starter] Dean Kremer can get us some innings tonight.”
The Orioles have Keegan Akin, Isaac Mattson, Travis Lakins and Cole Sulser on the 40-man roster at the Bowie alternate site.
Sulser wouldn’t be eligible to return because he was optioned on April 5th. A pitcher must stay down after an option for 15 days, except if he’s replacing an injured player.
Bad bunt: Anthony Santander raised some eyebrows when he bunted with Trey Mancini on first and one out on Sunday.
“I don’t want Anthony Santander bunting with a 3-1 count and a runner on first base,” Hyde said. “Just like I didn’t want Cedric Mullins bunting with two strikes in New York.
“I like to give guys freedom. I think we’re pretty inexperienced in a lot of ways. Both of those were surprises. Our guys are going to learn from those. I think the bunt is definitely necessary at times. It’s going to be right in your face when now is the time when I’m going to lay one down.
“For Cedric, it’s a weapon. It’s part of his game. When you’re a left-handed at-bat like Santander or Chance Sisco or Rio Ruiz, it’s all about game situation and understanding where we are.
“If I’m Anthony Santander with a 3-1 count, I’m looking to drive the baseball. But if I do decide to lay a bunt down, and I only have one strike on me, it’s either going to be fair or foul, I’m not going to allow the pitcher to go over and get it. All these things, we’re still learning.”
Franco’s progress: Franco didn’t sign with the Orioles until March 16th, and he’s starting to feel more comfortable.
Franco hit his first home run with the Orioles on Sunday, a three-run shot that left the ballpark in a hurry. He’s hitting .229 with nine RBIs.
“It’s been a little bit difficult,” Franco said of his adjustment. “But now I’ve gotten used to that. I know everybody … I have some good friends.”